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mother. marathoner. blogger. reader.

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012...

For the last few days, I've been writing and re-writing my end of the year, New Year, running review post in my head. I've been stalking fitness blogs on Twitter trying to find some inspiration.

I'm not sure what I want to say. How can I sum up a year that was completely beyond my wildest expectations?

Anyone who reads this blog regularly, even semi-regularly, knows I've had a fabulous running year. For the most part, I've been injury free. I've been blessed with a husband who lets me train and then drives me 8 hours so that I can PR in a marathon. I exceeded my own expectations and PR'd in a half marathon. I ran my first trail race and didn't kill myself. I'm faster now, at 31, then I have ever been before. My children are very aware that their Mommy runs (a lot) and they believe this is normal.

There are a few things I would like to accomplish in 2013. Two marathons, a 10k in under an hour, and more training on trails. I would like to strength train atleast twice a week and somehow make it back to yoga.

I also want to leave some things behind. Half of the drama that plays out in the recesses of my brain are a direct result of pintrest, facebook, and twitter. I compare myself to others and lay a ridiculous amount of unneeded guilt upon myself. I'm stealing an idea from a fellow blogger, Courtney, and instituting No Technology Thursdays. It probably won't go well but atleast my heart is in the right place.

I want/need to be a better friend to those who I love. Many of the people that are closest to my heart live the furtherst away. As the wise Baz Luhrmann once said, "Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young."

I'm excited about what this new year will hold. Some things will be changing (my baby is going to kindergarten in the fall!) and some things will stay the same.  I thank you for joining me on this journey. Let's see how many miles we can rack up in the new year and how we can change our lives.

Check ya later!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

the one where the wind drowns out P.Diddy

My Dad lives on a mountain. Big hills, no sidewalks, curves. Basically a wussy runner's nightmare. Throw snow into the mix and I'm out. I spent most of Friday night obsessively checking weather.com, watching as the chance for snow went up, and up, and up. I decided that I would move my long run from Saturday to Sunday to avoid the possibility of death by car.

8:00am Saturday morning: no snow. 9:00am still no snow. I started to get cranky. Mad at myself for being such a wuss. Finally, it started to snow and I felt better. I ate my french toast and enjoyed a day spent entirely in my pajamas.

Of course, not running on Saturday means I had to run today. The sky was clear and the sun was shining but it was WINDY. As in "stop in your tracks because you can't breathe, feel like your skin is being ripped off your face, snow blowing and hampering your inability to see" windy. I had to turn up the volume on my iPod because the wind was so loud.

I put on layers, silently thanked my mother in law for all the crocheted headbands she has made me, and navigated my way up my Dad's sorta kinda plowed driveway. Thankfully, the majority of the run was uneventful. There weren't enough cars on the roads to scare me into a snowbank and I only had to stop twice to brace myself against the buffeting winds.

I'm thankful that I have a race on the schedule, thankful that I have a goal to reach for. If I didn't, I would totally stay wrapped up in blankets on my Dad's couch and not move for the rest of our visit. As it is, I plan on doing nothing for the rest of the day.  

Friday, December 28, 2012

my kid is smart.



Angry Birds structure balanced on triangles....

Clearly, my son is an engineering genius.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas and why YOU should run in the Winter

Merry belated Christmas!

My family and I have been on the road, visiting family, since the beginning of December. 3 states, 3 Christmas celebrations, lots of presents, and even more opportunities to eat cookies.

I've never met a cookie I didn't like.

Even though we're on vacation, there is no vacation from running. I've probably run about 50 miles or so since we left. I went from running in shorts and a short sleeve shirt in GA to wearing cold weather tights and a jacket in NY. 

In celebration of winter running I thought I would re-post my Top Ten Reasons why you should Run in Cold Weather....

Enjoy! 


1. If you're embarrassed about being out there, don't be. No one else is out there, it's too cold (even in GA), and even if they are they're too busy trying to stay warm to pay attention to you. 
2. It's the perfect time to hide that body under layers of clothing. Every runner looks fat in the winter. If you start now you'll be skinny and svelte to wear spandex in the summer. 
3. When else is it socially acceptable to blow your nose in to your shirt and wear your snots proudly?
4. You can be like me and brag to anyone that will listen that you ran in ____ degree weather. I promise they'll be impressed.
5. Cold weather running gear is fun! Fun hats, gloves, jackets... the options are endless. I personally like to rock a multicolored neon headband that my mother-in-law crocheted for me. (Seth is wearing it in the first picture)
6. It's a good way to beat those winter blues. No one likes a cranky pants. Even if you only go out for 20 minutes it will clear your head, make you feel better about life, and save someone from having to give you an attitude adjustment.  
7. You don't sweat as much. Or at least its harder to tell that you're sweating - it could be frost.
8. The skin that's exposed to the air turns this awesome red color. It makes you look healthy.
9. Running in the winter will make you faster. The faster you move, the faster you'll be done and back in your nice, warm house.   
10. Hot chocolate! It stands to reason that if you burned enough calories running in the freezing cold you should be able to reward yourself with some hot chocolate goodness. 

C'mon people join the revolution! Running the winter is fun, unless you get hypothermia.That would be bad. So use some common sense, dress appropriately, and have a good time. Note: if you're squeamish about boogers, bring tissues.


  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

the one where I go bright and bold

I've been living a very colorful life recently. If you can't tell by the picture my new running sneakers are purple, hot pink, and lime green. They are quite striking. They also match my neon running headband perfectly. I've been turning heads.

I've moved back to my trusty Asics GT series. I was a little hesitant considering my New Balances helped me PR in practically every race this year. Hopefully, the neon power will give me that extra little push.  

I also got a pair of trail shoes, Yes, that's right, a pair of shoes dedicated solely to the pursuit of trail greatness. I have no choice but to use them or my running log shoe mileage counter will mock me. They are also bright and bold. I have a thing for color. 



I'm excited to see where these two pairs of shoes will carry me in 2013. Two marathons, another trail race... a whole new set of PR's? 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

hate a little less and love a little more

I don't know where I stand on gun control. I don't know what role mental illness may or may not have played in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I'm not sure what more could have been done to prevent such a horrific situation from occurring.

All I do know is that I am a mother. I have two children, one of whom will be a kindergartner next year. Knowing that there are parents going to bed tonight without their child tucked safely in bed rips my heart apart. I've cried, I've prayed, and I've squeezed my children until they've begged me to stop.

If this tragedy has taught me anything, its that you can not kiss, hug, cuddle, or tickle your children enough. You can not tell them you love them enough. Since Friday, during moments of frustration (and believe me there have been many), I've had to remind myself to be grateful. Grateful that my children are still sitting in front of me. Grateful that they are still here to do things that drive me crazy. Grateful that this Christmas I will be able to experience the joy and wonder of presents under the tree with my children.

Life can change in an instant. Driving down the street, sending your kids to school, going to work - you never know what can happen. Life is short. We all need to spend our days complaining less, encouraging more, and loving the people most important to us. I believe that's the best way to honor the victims of Newton, Connecticut, and victims of violence, worldwide. Hate a little less and love a little more.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

the one where I struggle with elevation charts and geography


Tuesday marked the first day of my training for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon.

I know what you're thinking. "Um, Lauren. Didn't you just run a marathon?"

Why, yes dear reader, I DID just run a marathon. Less then a month ago actually.

It all happened quite quickly. One minute I'm looking at the elevation chart for the Kings Mountain Marathon and the next thing I know I'm laughing uncontrollably. Not a happy, deep belly, laugh - more like a nervous, "oh snot what did I get myself into" kind of laugh. I showed Seth the chart and his response was immediately "no".

The next thing I know I'm asking Seth what state "is on top of us" and frantically searching marathon databases. Up popped Knoxville and 15 minutes later I was registered. It's all kind of a blur.

I've made the outrageous declaration that I want to run 2 marathons next year. My long term goal is to join the 50 States Marathon Club and you need 10 states to get in. I have 6 to go. JUST TO JOIN.

I'm warning you all now - depending on where you live - I might need to crash on your couch for a night. I have a lot of states to visit.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Victoria Bryant Trail 10k rundown

I ran my first trail race on Saturday. I was more nervous then I was before my last marathon.

Since the marathon, roughly less then a month ago, I've run about 20 miles. I had the stomach flu and a sinus infection. My husband and kids were sick and we traveled to three different far away places in a week. Needless to say, I was feeling quite unprepared.

I had no time goal, no expectations: other then finishing without throwing up, breaking a bone, or falling on my face. My poor running partner, Saron, was dealing with her own illness and sleep deprivation. We huddled together at the start, nervously laughing about the real possibility of us getting lost. As the race started, we exchanged promises of sticking together and taking it easy.

It was hard. There were hills (like a ridiculous amount of hills), roots, and rocks. Miles 1-3 took forever. We walked a few, stopped for a breather, and talked about everything from running to clothes. We encouraged other runners and each other. We admired the beauty of Victoria Byrant State Park and congratulated ourselves on even being out there. An hour and 25 minutes later, we crossed the finish line. 5 minutes later, we learned that Saron had placed second in her age group and won a medal! I'm not sure who was more excited her or me. 

Saron and her medal!
I don't know that I'll give up road racing anytime soon but there is something special and unique about trail running. There might just be a trail marathon in my future.            



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

my girl.

The other night, on the way to bed, I asked E if she wanted to hold my hand.

"No, E do it."

She clasped her hands together, holding them in front of her, intertwining her little fingers.

Then she marched ahead into her dark room.

"C'mon Mommy c'mon."

No fear, no worries. Strong and confident.

I must be doing something right.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the one where I tell the truth

I have a confession to make. 

On Sunday, when I wrote my celebratory marathon post, I was in a bad mood. I had to force myself to write it and force myself to sound excited. I spent the whole day and most of the day before (while spending 8+ hours in a car with my two children and two very sore legs) brooding. Thinking how unfair it was that I couldn't just lay on the couch and relive my marathon glory. Desperately wanting my children to understand I couldn't search under the couch for wayward golf balls because I might never get up again. Disliking myself for believing I needed to do laundry when the laundry room is down a long, steep flight of stairs. 

Motherhood is a 24/7 job. Even when I have a legitimate reason to be lazy, I feel this overwhelming need to pick up toys, clean food up off the floor, and do laundry. Don't get me wrong, I am not a candidate for Mother of the Year. Even when my muscles don't feel like they've been dragged through a cheese grater, I struggle with impatience. It wasn't so much that I was annoyed with my family, it was more then I was annoyed with myself for not taking a break. Did the laundry need to get done the day after I ran a marathon? No, it could have waited until Monday when I could go downstairs (albeit sideways) and not wince in pain with every step. 

I had fallen prey to the ridiculous notion that I need to sacrifice myself for the sake of my family. That everyone else is more important then me. That couldn't be farther from the truth. My family needs me but they also need me to be healthy, happy, and sane. Thankfully, I woke up yesterday morning with a renewed spirit and the ability to bend. I spent time with my son picking out our favorite medals. I read stories with my daughter and 2 "adopted" daughters. I took a nap. I had a chocolate chip frappe. I looked in the mirror and exclaimed "I ran a 4:27 marathon!"  

I didn't need to fake that excitement. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

the one where I run my fastest 26.2 miles EVER

4:27:42. That's how long it took me to run my 4th marathon.

I beat my previous PR by 22 minutes.

I beat my goal time by 18 minutes and my secret, don't dare to say it out loud, goal time by 2 minutes.


waving to my kids before mile 26
I never thought it would be possible. I never thought I would be sitting here, writing a blog post about completing a marathon in under 4 and a half hours. Apparently though, it is possible, because I did it. Insane.

I also never thought it would be possible to run that fast with only 4 hours of sleep. W was up every 2 hours; coughing, sneezing, talking. At about 3 am when he told me he was hot, I realized the poor child had a fever. Of course, the medicine I brought was packed in the suitcase, which was already in the car. My amazing husband got up, put on clothes, and went to the parking garage to bring back the medicine. At 5am, he told me he had to go to the bathroom. In my sleepless stupor, I didn't pull his underwear down fast enough (he had his hands full with his blanket and Angry Bird Pig) and he peed all over the place, including my hand. That's when I lost it. I cleaned him up, laid back down and prayed (actually begged) for sleep. I was wide awake when my alarm went off.

that's what I look like after a night in a hotel with my son
A Facebook message from a dear fellow runner friend lifted my spirits and got me to the starting line. I took a deep breath and ran the FASTEST MARATHON OF MY LIFE! Totally worth getting peed on.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy destroyed my home. Not the physical one I live in, but the place I grew up. The island where I played with my friends, went to school, and learned to drive. Staten Island. My home.

Thankfully, my family members are safe. There was minimal property damage and only a few days without power. We're North Shoreres and only had to deal with Sandy's windy wrath. The South Shore of the island was not so lucky. Between the wind and the water, houses were loosened from their foundations. Residents were trapped in the upper floors of their homes. Cars were swept away and trees landed on streets, cars, and people. As the cleanup begins, the death toll continues to rise. People are missing and there is little hope that they will be found alive. They say a picture is worth a thousand words...  


All I can hear is heartbreak.

I can't go home. I can't help clean up. I can't hug my fellow islanders and share in their grief. In the aftermath of the storm, I felt so helpless. Suddenly, obessively following facebook and twitter for updates wasn't enough. Retweeting and reposting needs and distribution locations wasn't enough. Going to Fred's and buying a handful of toiletries, garbage bags, work gloves, and socks wasn't enough. (Although it did make me feel a little better.)

On November 10th, I am running in the Richmond Marathon. I am now officially running for Staten Island. I plan on wearing my high school cross country singlet (which surprisngly still fits. Although I will need to wear a shirt underneath. I don't need to scare anyone.) and dedicating a specific mile to the residents of my hometown. This is where you come in. If you have not already donated to Hurricane Sandy relief, I urge you to do so. Any amount would go a long way to helping not only the residents of Staten Island, but other communities in NY and NJ that were impacted by the storm.

You can donate as much or as little as you’d like…
$1 per mile = $26                                                 $10 per mile = $260
$2 per mile = $52                                                 $20 per mile = $520
$3 per mile = $78                                                 $30 per mile = $780
$4 per mile =$104                                                $40 per mile =$1040
$5 per mile = $130                                               $50 per mile = $1300

As always, the Red Cross is working tirelessly to serve the tri state area. You can donate there at redcross.org. Also, I have seen the hard work and determined spirit of Shaun King and the Hope Mob do wonderful things for the people of my city. Please follow them on twitter @hope and you may also donate to hurricane relief at their website hopemob.org.

To help the people of Staten Island, specifically, I would direct you to two charities. One is the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Tower Foundation and the other is the Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund. Both foundations were set up in memory of Staten Island firefighters lost in 9/11. Both groups are determined to help the people of Staten Island rise up in the face of trememdous loss. My facebook feed is full of status updates from Kevin Jamison, who is spearheading the recovery efforts for the Carl Bini Fund. He and his team have been working nonstop since the storm bringing supplies and essential items to displaced residents. They have been involved in cleanup in areas that are essentially destroyed. Your donation will aid them in continuing their efforts to help others.

First, thank you for reading this long and somewhat depressing post. Secondly, if you do decide to donate please let me know. I would like to carry your name with me as I run through the streets of Richmond. Lastly, please pray for Staten Island, New York City, and the New Jersey Shore. There is no question that they will rebuild, but it will be a long road, and they just need some help getting there.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

the one where I cheer for my friends


Moving from New York to Georgia was one of the most stressful and scariest things I have ever done. I left my entire family, my church family, friends, my job - effectively everything that defined me as me.

I don't make friends easily. I worry about how others perceive me and tend to act stuck up or snobby when I'm really just feeling insecure and unsure about myself. Many of the friends I have are ones that I've had for years. 

Rick and Maggie Turner pulled down all my walls, plowed through all my junk, and immediately embraced me as a friend. They have been a huge source of comfort and amusement over the last few years. They are deeply in love with each other and with Christ. They are also a little bit crazy. Maggie pushes me (well, throws me) out of my running comfort zone on a constant basis. I spend most of our weekly lunches giving her dubious looks as she pitches various races she thinks I should run in. She is persuasive though, as evidenced by the addition of a 10k trail race to my schedule. Rick is just a giant teddy bear that gives great hugs and makes me laugh. If I ever needed anything, he would be one of the first people I would call.

They are currently in the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia and have been running various races to help raise money to cover costs. Most recently, they both ran the Greenville, SC Half Marathon (where Maggie PR'd!) and I was able to make a complete fool of myself while cheering them on. I've repeatedly tried to upload a video of me screaming and yelling for Rick and Maggie but my computer hates me so you'll have to trust me when I say I completely and shamelessly embarrassed myself. 

Please take a minute to visit Rick and Maggie's blog and prayerfully consider contributing. If you do, let me know and I'll take a minute to completely and shamelessly cheer for you. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

the one where I am an athletic supporter

Today was opposite day. Instead of me getting up early to run a marathon, it was my husband that set his alarm for 4:45am to tackle 26.2 miles. 

I made him pose like this..
We got to the Greenville Marathon start line with no problem. Found a parking spot nestled between the start and finish lines. Got onto the port-a-potty line before the hoards. I took the obligatory pre-race pictures...

I have to stand on my tip toes to take pictures with him

such a good runner... stretching before a race
Words cannot express how immensely proud of my husband I was today. I know how courageous you have to be to even stand at the start line of a marathon. I may or may not have teared up when the gun went off. 



I spent the morning wandering around Greenville and taking pictures of fall leaves. I cheered for friends of ours who were running in the half marathon. Eventually, after buying him a celebratory blueberry scone from the Great Harvest Bread Co., I made my way back to the finish line.  

I grabbed a spot on the curb and started cheering and continued cheering until I saw that maroon shirt and blue hat turn the corner. One look and I knew something was wrong. He was walking. Seth hates to walk while running. I took a deep breath, screamed "I love you!" as loud as I could and watched as he started to run again. 

Turns out my poor husband had vomited at mile 23. Like full on, in the gutter, liquid out the nose, vomit. Immediately, I was concerned. I read Runner's World. I know all about the dangers of dehydration and hyponatremia. Two conditions that can be fatal for endurance athletes. Only two things kept me from marching him to the nearest medic. 1. the color of his lips and face were good and 2. he was coherent.

About 15 minutes into our trip home, he threw up again. As I calmly pulled the car over and got out of the car, all I thought was "Well, I can either call 911 or get him back to the race medics." As I was trying to figure out how I was going to convince him that this was not a good situation, I handed him face wipes, a dish towel, and water to rinse his mouth out. Then I made him strip. All the wet clothes came off and dry clothes went on. Thankfully, as the dry socks went on, he began to feel better.

On the way home, we talked about the race and tried to work out what went wrong. Essentially, we concluded that, originally, he was over hydrated. Fearing that he wasn't drinking enough, he over drank and threw his body all out of whack. The vomiting and the nausea led him to become dehydrated. A double whammy. A super duper scary double whammy.

Thankfully, he seems to have recovered. Two servings of my homemade recovery drink, a blueberry scone, a nap, and a monster Subway buffalo chicken sandwich seemed to do the trick. He's appropriately tired and sore but not nauseous or dead.    

What lessons did we learn today? Trust your training. If you're carrying liquid, do not be swayed or tempted by  water stations. Trust your training. When you're vomiting on a race course and someone asks you if you need a medic, you should probably say yes. Most importantly, trust your training.          
No medal is worth a trip to the E.R.

By the way, even with the vomiting episode he still finished in 4:20. I know. You don't have to tell me. He's amazing. He's mine. Don't even think about it.





Friday, October 26, 2012

the one where I do something I never thought I would do

Meeting a goal and surpassing your expectations only causes trouble. As in, I think I'm so cool that I decided to sign up for a local 10k race. Not your run of the mill road 10k, mind you, rather a trail 10k.

A trail 10k.

In a state park.

In December. Less then a month after the marathon.

Clearly, a year of PR's has gone to my head that I fancy myself capable of navigating mixed terrain.

I've had one experience with running trails and while it went well, I'm not sure that qualifies me to race a 10k. But what the hay. Its's less then 10 minutes from my house, I get a cool shirt, and the opportunity to do something new and exciting.

As Baz Luhrmann so eloquently put it, "Do one thing everyday that scares you." Because, let's be honest, I'm a little scared.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

the one where I surprise myself

I have big news. I have great news. 

I ran a half marathon this morning in 2:05:43. Let that sink in and soak for a minute. 

2:05:43. 

Not only did I beat my previous PR by 7 minutes but I met a major goal of running a half in under 2:10. 

Me! I did that! 


This year I have set PR's at every distance: 5k, 10k, and now half marathon. On November 10th, I am running my fourth marathon. Will the trend continue?

Stayed tuned.
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

the one where a lot of stuff happens

I had the kind of run on Saturday that gets me excited about running. The kind of run that makes me jump up and down and clap my hands. The kind of run that makes the early morning wake ups and long miles worth it.

"What exactly happened?" you might ask. Well, a number of things...

1. I ran my fastest 20 miles EVER. Partly because...

2. I was involved in a battle of wills with two dogs. Now, if I could only find  some wild hounds to scare the snot of me during the marathon I might be able to finish well under 5 hours. A safer and less frightening choice would be to use a pace group but that kind of takes the thrill out of it.

3. I tagged along for a few miles with two runners that I have only ever seen but have never spoken to. This was right after the dog incident and I could have wept with relief when I saw them coming up the road. They graciously allowed me to highjack their run and even invited me to run with them during the week. I'm glad my fear of feral animals didn't make a bad first impression.   
4. At about 8 miles into my run, I crashed a 5k and helped a friend set a personal record.


"My running buddy this morning! Made my PR of 29:45 for a 5k! What a blessing that Lauren crashed our race! :)" -Chanice
 Normally, I strictly adhere to running etiquette. Race crashing is a big NO NO. It's not fair to the other participants or to the race directors. In my defense, it was a small race, I didn't use any of their supplies (such as water or bananas), and I didn't cross the finish line. It wasn't my intention to crash but as I was headed against the flow of the race, I saw my friend Chanice (who is one of the many people in my life that inspires me to keep running) and I couldn't help myself. I just had to crash. So, take me to runner's jail because I have no remorse. I am guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

the one where I am thankful

I run, train, and race alone. It's not as sad and pathetic as it might sound. I enjoy the time alone, the solitude of logging those miles by myself. I use the time to rock out to my music, pray, and breathe.   

I may not share my miles with others but I certainly love to talk about them. I follow countless runners and runner groups on Facebook and Twitter. I have weekly lunches with a dear friend where we mostly talk about running with a few other topics thrown in. Being able to share your triumphs and difficulties with people who understand is priceless.

For about a year and a half, I have been blessed to be a part of an online group called Friends Who Run. There are eight of us, all girls, all runners. One of us is an accomplished runner, regularly logging high mileage even while pregnant with her second child. Another is a newcomer to our group, having recently discovered the joys of running. Virtually watching her discover who she is as a runner has been so much fun. Reading her posts and comments remind me why I fell in love with running in the first place. Some days, my heart explodes with pride. My best friend, who always claimed she was a only a walker, is now excited about buying running shoes and is already planning her first post-baby 5k.

These women are an endless source of inspiration. Over the past year, one of us has run 850 miles, broke her arm and sprained her ankle and just a few days ago ran a 4:22 marathon. How could I not be inspired by that? When I have doubts, they dispel them. When I have questions, they answer them. Knowing I'm not the only one who decided to skip a morning run and sleep in boosts my self esteem.    

I am thankful for these women. These strong, unflinching, determined women. I am so proud of everything they have accomplished. I look forward to sharing the stories of my miles with them for many years to come.    

Sunday, October 7, 2012

the one where I compare myself to my carpet

This past week I've been the VIP at my own personal pity party. Anything and everything I could beat myself up for I have. Including but not limited to: 

Despite training for 2 full marathons and 2 half marathons, I still haven't lost that last ten pounds of baby love.

I have an annoying rash on my chin that the dermatologist has diagnosed as perioral dermatitis. Basically, I have a rash near my mouth. Um, yeah thanks. That's $35 I'll never get back. I could have used WebMD to figure that one out.

Everyone and their mother runs faster then I do.

The fear that I'm a terrible mother that does nothing but snap and scream at her children.

So I did what any self respecting woman with 2 young children does when she's stressed, I cleaned. I didn't just straighten up or do the dishes, I spot cleaned my carpet with my recently acquired Bissell Little Green Clean machine.

As I sprayed, scrubbed, and suctioned every little spot, mark and stain something occurred to me. My spirit, recently, has looked very much like my living room carpet. A few dark spots that are glaringly obvious and ruining the overall look. I need to do something for my attitude akin to busting out my spot cleaner for my carpet.

Otherwise, the words that come out of my mouth, my behavior and the impression I leave with others will look like this... 

end result of my angry spot cleaning carpet session

Dirty, stanky, grimy water. 

I need to let it all go. I need to let go of what type of mother I think I should be, of how fast a runner I should be. I need to let go of my petty jealously and endless need to compare myself to others. 

I need the hugs, kisses, and love from my children to be enough. I need the act of running to be enough. I need to be enough for myself. 

The alternative isn't very pretty.





Wednesday, October 3, 2012

the one where I taunt my midsection.

Day 1 of 7 minute abs workout was a breeze. 

Day 2 was a tiny bit painful. Seldom used muscles were a little angry with me for trying to whip them back into shape.

Day 3 was agony. Clearly, my midsection is much happier in its current flabby, post 2 babies state and wishes I would leave it alone. 

I'm onto your little game, abdominal muscles, and I'm refusing to participate. You think that if you twinge and ache with the littlest movement, including when I breathe, that I will stop the nightly torture. Well, I will not! I will make you strong again even if I have to pound you into submission to do it.

Oh by the way, no more bread for you either. Cooperate and then we'll talk.

Monday, September 24, 2012

the one where I'm crying just writing this post

Two years ago, it was a Saturday, I was scheduled to get a massage. I had even shaved my legs, and considering I was 8 1/2 months pregnant at that time, that was a pretty big deal. Instead of heading to Athens for my massage, Seth and I drove the 40 minutes to the hospital because my daughter decided she had had enough and wanted out. Nevermind she was about 6 days ahead of her scheduled C-section date or that I was supposed to have my baby shower the next day. Nevermind that my Mom wasn't scheduled to come for a few more days and we had no one to stay with Will. I should have known then that life with E would never be predictable.

My little girl is going to be 2. 2! When did that happen? Where has the time gone? When did she go from being my little strawberry to the wild-haired, funny, independent little spark plug she is now? Sometimes, I catch myself staring at her little hands and feet, willing them to stay that way forever. Every day as she learns something new or does something that makes me laugh, I realize how blessed I am to have this little girl in my life. Blessed and scared all at the same time. Scared that she won't know how intelligent, brave, and beautiful she is. Scared that she will suffer heartbreak and sorrow; wounds and scars that I won't be able to shield her from or heal for her. 

I know I can't and shouldn't protect her from everything; that all I can really do is love her fiercely, pray for her continuously, and guide her as she grows. *sigh* If I'm this emotional about her 2nd birthday, they're going to have to pick me up off the floor for her 16th.

Happy Birthday E bomb. I love you more then I can say. 



   And even though I think that whole rolling your eyes thing is cute now, it won't be in about 10 years, so please stop while you're ahead.

      

Monday, September 10, 2012

reflections

Eleven years ago, I was a junior in college. Six hours away from my family and from the city that I love. There was nothing I could do but sit and watch the horror unfold on the television. Streets I had walked on were covered with debris. Buildings I saw almost every day of my life were suddenly gone. An empty, forlorn spot within the skyline I had grown up adoring.  

It took me months to realize how profoundly I was affected by the attack on my city. It took me years to watch or listen to any footage. I still, to this day, have not been to Ground Zero.

Freedom Tower - July 2012 
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I was running 17 miles in preparation for the NYC Marathon. This year, I'm scheduled to run 4 miles. I will spend those 4 miles praying and thinking about the lives that were lost that day. 

I may be 14 hours away and carry a different state's license in my wallet, but I am a New Yorker through and through. Never forget. Never forget.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

the one where I get on a soapbox

Begin rant:

I am 31 years old. I have been running for about 8 years. That's 8 years worth of shirts, socks, shorts, and running bras. That's 8 years of figuring out what works for me and what doesn't. Then suddenly, about 2 years ago, everything changed. Bras I've never had a problem with have started eating my flesh. (See below).  
post 15 mile run
 Shorts that I've worn for 4 years have started attacking my skin like it was an evil intruder (I will spare you that photographic evidence). My back looks like a torso from a straight to video horror flick. 

I have tried everything. New bras at all price points. Seamless bras that make grandiose promises of happy, chafe free skin. Bandaids. Bodyglide. Vaseline. Recently, per my Mother's suggestion, I have turned to Dove deodorant. Surprisingly, it works. However, and this is a very big however, it only works where I can reach. Hence, the very nasty, red line in the above picture. Who, at 6am, can coherently and accurately identify all the possible places on one's body where chafing might occur? Apparently, not me. 

I am baffled, that in 2012, not one single active wear company can design a sports bra that does not chafe. We can put a robot on Mars and yet I am running around my little town with chafing scars. I am baffled, completely baffled.      

End rant.

Disclaimer: I know that part of the problem is sweat. I know that I live in a part of the country where it is hot most of the time. I know that when Fall/Winter comes it will get better... let's hope my skin can hold out for that long.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

the one where I boast about my husband

This past weekend, my husband did something that four years ago, I never imagined he would do. He got up early and participated in a 10k race. Not only did he post a personal record, but he came in 2nd in his age group and 6th overall. Sometimes, I look at him and wonder who is this person?

May 2008
One day, in 2009, Seth woke up and decided he was tired of being overweight. He wanted to set a healthy example for our son, and, most importantly, wanted to feel good about himself again.  

LBI 2007
So he laced up an old pair of sneakers and ran 3 miles. He did that 4 days a week for the next year. He ate salads for lunch and watched his portion size. As the miles started to pile up, the pounds disappeared. 102 lbs to be exact.



This is what running has done for my husband. It helped him discover the happy, healthy person he was meant to be. It has given him unparalleled self-confidence and the knowledge that no obstacle is too big to conquer.
What can running do for you?

Post LBI 18 miler 2012    

Saturday, September 1, 2012

the one where I make it rain

I ran 15 miles this morning. I fought for every mile. It was hot and humid and I was dripping by mile 3. I was so sweaty that I could squeeze droplets of sweat from the brim of my hat. At one point, while taking a much needed breather, I made it rain sweat upon unsuspecting little ants. They were fire ants, so I have no regrets.

It wasn't a horrible run, just tiring. Training for a marathon is much different at 31 then it was at 26. I used to think that getting up at 8 am for a long run was early. That was clearly before I had children. Now, if I get out of the house after 6, I spend the first mile telling myself I should have gotten out of bed earlier. The problem is, I'm tired and I have to fight with myself to get out of bed. Yesterday, I successfully talked myself out of running. I even reset my alarm. Then I started having hot flashes and couldn't fall back asleep. So I dragged my sweaty self out of bed and went running. Even my body is against me sleeping in.

I always hit this point in my training where I'm physically and emotionally overwhelmed by the enormity of what I've set out to do. The miles start to get longer and it feels like there's no break, no respite. I keep telling myself that I've been here before, in this exact place, and I have always managed to survive to make it to the starting line. The key is to take each day, each mile, one at a time.  

Today, a glass of chocolate milk, dinner at Panera, and a trip to Academy Sports made me feel better. This upcoming week is a step back week - that makes me feel better too.  

 


Friday, August 24, 2012

Product review: Softcup

So I am not a huge fan of change. I've been using the same Martha Stewart K-Mart towels since college. Just recently, after 10 plus years, I switched running shoe brands. It takes a great deal of controlled breathing and inner dialogue to get me to give up the old and familiar. Which is why, frankly, I was shocked to find myself signing up for the Softcup challenge spearheaded by the website For The Love of the Run.



Simply put, Softcup is an alternative to tampons or pads. Who knew there was such a thing? Period protection is one of those things I've just never thought about. 

As a runner, using tampons can be tricky. Who wants to change a tampon during a race? In a port-a-potty? Ugh. The worst is when you have a bowel movement. There's little to no chance of escaping that situation without having to change your tampon. Not so with the Softcup. It sits nice and securely around your cervix and not in your vaginal canal like a tampon. In addition, with a Softcup you have 12 worry-free hours and there have been no reported cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome. 

I will admit that I was nervous, at first, about using the Softcup. I read everything I could about it and watched tutorial videos like they're were going out of style. The Softcup website is very clear and forthcoming with their explanations. I felt as if they understood my anxiety and provided me with the comfort and support I needed to take the plunge. 

As it turned out, my nervousness and hesitancy was unfounded. It was easy to insert, a little more tricky to remove, but not enough to detour me from using it in the future. I don't know that I will stop using tampons entirely, but I like knowing there are options. I will definitely use Softcup while on long training runs and during races. The last thing you want to worry during a 26.2 mile race is having to change a tampon.

Thank you, For The Love of The Run, for introducing me to this great product. As Sheryl Crowe so aptly put it "A Change Will Do You Good."  


Disclaimer: I am being compensated for this review, but the views and opinions expressed are my own.




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

the one where I realize my bad run could have been much worse

On Saturday, I had a bad run. A terrible run. A run that made me cry. Thankfully, it was just a training run. It wasn't during a race or a situation where it was all or nothing. 

As I'm writing this, I'm watching a replay of the Women's 1500m Olympic race. A race where American runner Morgan Uceny falls on the last lap and loses her chance at a possible medal. Now that's a bad run.

To make it worse (if that's even possible), the same thing happened to her at last year's World Championships. Imagine training that hard and for that long only to have a split second mistake destroy everything? TWICE!

She could have given up after the fall at Worlds. She could have hung up her track spikes and walked away from competitive running. She didn't. She battled back to make the Olympic final. I hope this time, after this fall, she finds a way to come back to the sport she loves. 

Puts things into perspective doesn't it? 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

the one where it all went wrong

The start of my 12 mile run went well enough. About a half hour later it all started to go terribly wrong.

First, at about the 3 mile mark, my GPS watch died. I stopped, sighed, then tried to picture a route that would give me the 9 miles I needed to complete my run. I decided to run the route I ran last week with an additional loop or two in hopes it would add up to 12.

The next couple of miles were uneventful. I did my usual loop through the cemetery and then headed up to  the Wellness park to refill my water bottles and add another mile. On my way back from the park, I decided to do a quick loop through the main street of town. I was feeling a little tired and not really paying attention when BAM! the top of my shoe caught an upraised section of concrete and I went flying.     

This was the result...


My first thought was "GET UP! Get up, before someone pulls over and asks you if you're ok." My next thought was "You need to get home but um, you're bleeding." I crossed the street and went into the police headquarters. I got some paper towels and took a few seconds to catch my breath. I stuck a paper towel against my hand, wiped my knee and then proceeded to run the last 2 miles home.


just another scar to add to my collection



It wasn't until I walked in the door and saw Seth that I started to cry. This is not the first time I've fallen while running but it is the first time that I've had the battle wounds to show for it. My wonderful husband hugged me and then went to get me waterproof band-aids so I could take a shower and not die in agony.

So, in conclusion, I had a really bad run and I am really glad I don't have to run for another 2 days.

I need a nap.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

the one where I lose my mojo

This afternoon, E took my iphone and threw it at her brother's head. All I could think was "well, at least it wasn't a golf club". Yeah, that pretty much sums up the last week and half.

Last week's runs were junk. I whined and complained through each mile and barely dragged myself through my long run of 11 miles. I just wasn't feeling it. I'm chalking it up to a combination of homesickness and adjusting back to "real" life. 5 weeks of not having to worry about dinner, cleaning, or anything really, tends to make one complacent. Or, in my case, really lazy. It doesn't help that Direct TV has 3 channels of Olympic coverage. 

Some weeks are ugly. Some weeks are littered with loud voices, time outs, and tears. Some weeks produce runs that make you wonder why you're even trying. That's when you get out of bed, lift your head up, pull your shoulders back, and dare the world to give you another bad week. This week, I issued the challenge and then ran back to bed and climbed under the covers. Baby steps. I figure by next week, I'll have my mojo back and all will be well. Today, W pooped on the potty so I figure we're headed in the right direction. Successful potty training one day, a successful run the next. Whatever it takes. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

the one where I neglect everything

Our summer trip is done. Seth is preparing for another semester. I'm cleaning out dressers and sorting clothes. We need to flip our mattress. All the signs are there - it's the beginning of a new year.

However, I'm running about 5 days behind on my new year duties due to this little thing that happens every 2 years or so - the Olympics. I'm completely, totally, utterly, and absolutely obsessed. The television goes on the minute I wake up, where one channel of Olympic coverage has already started recording. I catch up on events from the night before and then prepare for the main coverage to begin. I've watched handball for the first time and was surprised there was no wall (just ask any New Yorker and they'll explain what I mean), and marveled at the speed of those table tennis masters. Will and I cheered on the US archers and celebrated with Kayla Harrison when she became the first American to win a gold medal in Judo.

I have always been fascinated by the Olympics. During the Barcelona games, I literally lived in my living room for 2 weeks, glued to the television. I would stay up late during the Albertville and Lillehammer games, finishing my homework while cheering on the USA athletes. In the summer, I would pretend I was a gymnast and use the side of my pool as a balance beam. If I believed in past lives, I would swear that I was an Olympian.

I have great respect for those that push themselves past their limits to experience something amazing. Years of training culminating in an experience of only a few minutes or even seconds. That moment of greatness is why I run. I may not be competing in the Olympics but each run, each race, is an opportunity to be great. These Olympics and it's amazing athletes are inspiring me to be the best runner I can - regardless if I ever stand on a medal podium or not.           

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the one where I need to get a dog

Well, we survived. 38 days on the road. 5 different places. 110 miles of running. 1 attempted break in. Yes, you read that right - some fool tried to break into my house while we were away. 

my door is stronger then your crowbar

As if I don't have enough to deal with, let's add home invasion anxiety into the mix. Thankfully, the door was not breached and our material goods remained safe. After a call to our chief of police and a reassuring text from my neighbor, I was able to enjoy the rest of our trip. If anything, this little foray into the seedy underbelly of NE Georgia has made me realize that everything, except for my family, is replaceable. Now, I just need to get a big, huge dog and I'll be good. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

the one where I chafe and bust through a brick wall

Well, we did it. Seth and I ran the entire length of Long Beach Island in about 3 1/2 hours, with zero complaining about pace and no arguing. We ran companionably together, occasionally pointing out a new Island establishment and high-fiving when we reached the half way point.

18 miles is a long way to run, especially when your butt cheek start chafing at about mile 6. There's nothing more attractive then a very sweaty woman yanking at her shorts while running. In the beginning, I tried to time each yank when there was no one (a walker or cyclist) behind me but after about the 15th adjustment, I gave up caring. After so many miles, self preservation triumphs shame EVERY time.     

At about mile 13, I hit the proverbial wall and I hit it hard. My feet were hurting; I was tired (a 4am start time is no fun); I was out of Gatorade; and I just wanted to curl up on the ground in the fetal position. In front of a garden sprinkler, if possible. 

I've hit the wall before. Mile 18 of the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon, mile 22 of the Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon, and mile 23 of the NYC Marathon. You literally feel like you can not possibly take another step, and that if you do there's a good chance you'll fall over and die. All the training in the world can not prepare you for this moment. You are now a spectator as your brain and your will to succeed duke it out. Your body will automatically take the steps and keep you moving forward, but each step will be agony.

At first, I tried to sing along to music playing on my iPod. I replayed one song, (everyone sing along now) "Hey, I just met you and this is crazy but here's my number so call me maybe..." but after a few times that stopped helping. I then moved on to praying for people, but unfortunately ran through that list pretty quickly. I then attempted to literally picture a brick wall and imagined myself kicking, screaming, pounding, and slamming through it. SUCCESS! Not to say that the last few miles weren't hard - because they were - but I knew the end was in sight and was confident I would make it.  

I don't know if I will attempt this craziness again. Running 18 miles while on vacation makes me tired and my legs sore. I missed an afternoon at the beach because I needed a nap. That is so lame. However, despite the chafing, wanting to throw myself on the ground, and the sweat dripping into my eyes, it was a good run. I'm so glad it's over.    

Monday, July 23, 2012

the one where Seth and I run a lot of miles and then I eat bacon

If you've been  paying attention to the "Upcoming Races" section of my blog, you already know that I'm supposed to run 18 miles tomorrow. It's not a race, just an opportunity for Seth and I to do something ridiculous while on our beach vacation.
One of the first summers that I came to the beach with Seth and his family, his father ran from the beach house, down the island to the lighthouse. I was amazed and impressed that someone would get up that early to run multiple miles while on vacation! In an attempt to be cool like my Father in law, I have now made the 13+ mile trek three times. Sometime last year, in a moment of insanity, Seth and I decided that we would (together!) run the ENTIRE length of the island, for a total of 18 miles or so. 10 months ago, it seemed like a really great idea. Now, the day before, I'm thinking this was a silly idea.
Long distance running should be synonymous with silly ideas. People running back to back marathons or 100 mile races through deserts or up mountains. Or two people, both training for marathons, getting up at 4 o'clock in the morning (while on vacation!) to run from Holgate to Barnegat Light. It's silly, I tell you, just silly.
Nevertheless, we will do it. Thankfully, the run will be followed by breakfast with Seth's Dad and Uncle. Bring on the egg and cheese on a roll with a side of bacon!
Pictures to follow.
  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

the one where we buy a zoo (well, not really)

 Today, we visited the Staten Island Zoo. It is great to be able to take my children to the same places that I went when I was their age. It is also kind of surreal. Who knew I was old enough to have kids that would enjoy a morning at the Zoo?

E the Penguin Girl
W the Penguin Boy




















The Zoo is small enough that you can do it before the melt downs begin and has enough cute little animals to hold any hyperactive child's attention. To name a few, we saw pigs, fish, otters, chickens, & lemurs. W and his cousins petted a snake and E attempted to pet a donkey.
E and Cousin Emma checking out the Leopard
I attempted to get a few group shots and pretty much failed. They were semi cooperative for this shot though...

Note: NOT a real snake!
 It occurred to me today that when we do things like this, as a family, we're creating memories that my children will look back on. It is my responsibility to make those memories as fun and enjoyable as they can be - regardless of the heat or anything else. Changes the perspective a little bit doesn't it?  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

the one where I eat too much

Week 1 of marathon training is complete. Total number of miles: 19. Number of those miles run on hills: 16. Number of times my calves have screamed and begged me to stop: countless. I won't give you the count of the number of cupcakes, cookies, or bowls of ice cream I have eaten in the last few days because it's just obscene.
we tend to eat a lot of ice cream (yes, that's my in the background shoving a cookie into my mouth)
Yesterday morning, I ran my long run of 8 miles and then proceeded to walk all over the isle of Manhattan with my Mother. To say that my legs are tired would be an understatement. My Mom and I make this trip into the city every year. We wander up along the Hudson, take The High Line, walk through a street fair, have dinner, and just talk. It is beyond wonderful. 

NYC is the 4th stop on our Summer Grand Voyage. The kids are being completely spoiled by their Grandmother, who everyday brings them a new gift. I am being spoiled by my Gram's incredible cooking and am enjoying being able to run my old routes. I forgot how hilly this place is. This morning, I ran negative splits but that was only because it was all downhill. I'm looking forward to another week of running through my favorite parks and then we're off to the beach! Hopefully, all that ice cream and those cookies will not reflect too badly on my beach physique.  
      
Bunch of July birthday babies




Monday, July 9, 2012

the one where I start training for another marathon

At about mile 23 of the 2011 NYC Marathon, I half muttered, half wept to myself, "I am NEVER doing this again. This is STUPID! I'm tired, my feet hurt, and if one more person tells me the finish line is right up ahead I'm going to punch them in the face. And I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want some Swedish fish." I was, therefore, most surprised, when approximately a week or so later, I found myself registering for the 2012 Anthem Richmond Marathon. Running marathons is kind of like giving birth - you forget how truly painful and terrifying it was and only remember the new cute little munchkin. Or in this case, how awesome it felt to finally get that medal.  


So here I am, 8 months later, embarking on another 16 week marathon training program. This will be my fourth marathon and I still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. That's where the internet comes in. This time around, I'm utilizing the brilliance of Hal Higdon and his online Novice II schedule  (with a few minor modifications) to get me through the 26.2 miles and across that finish line. 


I learned the hard way that running 5 days a week is a big no no for me. I get burnt out, start to loathe running, and want to poke my eyes out. 4 days a week is perfect, especially with pace runs thrown in there. That's the key to a great training program; knowing what you're capable of doing and doing that really well. I'm going to rock the snot out of this training program.... 4:45 marathon perhaps?   


Because I know you all care so very much, I'll try to keep you updated on my progress and mileage. Thanks for joining me on this very crazy adventure... keeps your arms within the vehicle at all times and please, for the love of all things holy, bring me some Swedish fish!  


Sunday, July 8, 2012

the one where I possibly jinx myself by switching shoe brands

I made a life changing decision the other day. After 10 years of wearing the same type of running sneaker, I switched to a new brand. *gasp*. I'm not really sure how that happened. I walked into Second Sole with the intention of walking out with a new pair of the Asics GT series. Somehow, I left with a pair of New Balance 860's.

There was a lot of jogging around the store, which if you've never done it, is very odd. I'm not a pretty runner when I'm wearing street clothes. It is also weird to jog in a store when other people are watching you. I never know what I'm supposed to say or even what I'm supposed to feel. "Oh yeah, I can totally feel that extra stability in the heel", or "Oooo, such a roomy toe box". It's like when you're at the eye doctor and they ask you which image is more blurry. I always lie and just say the left, with an occasional right, thrown in there for good measure.  

Picking out my new sneakers wasn't as much as a crap shoot as my eyes exams are, but it was still a little nerve wracking. I don't like change but every once in awhile you need to mix it up. This, people, is me living dangerously.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

the one where we live out of a suitcase for a month

Living far away from family and friends has a few benefits. One, I don't have to worry too much about the state of my house because no one is going to drive 11 hours to make a surprise visit. Two, no one really knows how fresh my daughter is. They see cute pictures of her on Facebook and are fooled by the wispy blond hair and big blue eyes. The girl is straight up out of control. If this is any insight into her teenage years, I am in so much trouble. 

Overall though, it's pretty terrible to be separated by so much distance. It's hard on the kids, hard on us, and hard on everyone who loves us. We try to make it home (either to Ohio or NY) as much as possible. Currently, we are on Day 13 of our month long summer trip. By the end, we will have visited 4 different households and 5 different places. You haven't lived until you've dragged your kids all over the Eastern seaboard.  

First up was Bellbrook, OH; home to our dear friends from college. It's wonderful being able to spend time with people who knew you before you had kids. It's almost as if they help you to excavate that fun, carefree, relaxed part of yourself that disappeared among diapers and constant screams of "NO!". Our friends have a daughter of their own and another on the way. It will be a long time before either of us will be child free but its comforting to know that we're in it together.    

the future members of the commune
                                                     
Right now, we're in Canfield, OH, visiting with my in-laws. My kids love their Nana & Papa and all the attention they receive. Papa takes them for walks and Nana chases down wayward golf balls. There is a pantry full of treats and a dog to chase around the house. For Seth & I, being here means help with the kids. Other people to pull screaming toddlers out of booster seats that they strapped themselves into and other people to screw golf heads back on after W chips one too many balls out of the "rough". Right now, I'm sitting on the porch swing listening to music while E naps and Seth, his mom, brother, and W are out playing mini golf. I almost don't know what to do with myself. It is wonderful.  

E & Seth modeling Nana's creations
                                                 
Papa making Chocolate Zucchini cake
                                                 
Seth and I are still running. He starts training for his first full marathon this week and I start training for mine the week after. We're running in a local 4 mile race on July 4th (my 31st! birthday), and W is going to run the 1/2 mile kids run with his Papa. I have BIG plans to shave a few minutes off my time from last year. Let's hear it for a PR! Woot, woot!